Mahakaruna Quartet

Association Nuovo Corso 001

Critiquing the world of necessary, but often spirit-deadening work with an almost 70-minute improvisation, pianist Giorgio Pacorig’s arrangements for the Mahakaruna Quartet’s emphasize musical freedom at the expense of agit-prop. The happy result is that the music can be appreciated for the manner in which this Italian-Slovenian quartet sophistically handles the genre-bending material, no matter your politics.

Having worked with figures as disparate as Zeno de Rossi and Zlatko Kaučič, instigator Pacorig, whose concepts includes this session, one of a creative trilogy dealing with work, gathered fellow Baltic adventures to reify his concept. Other members of the group, whose name translates from Sanskrit as “compassion”, are: Italians, cornetist Gabriele Cancelli and drummer Stefano Giust, plus Ljubljana-based tenor saxophonist Cene Resnik. Divided into nine tracks on the label, each actually flows into the next with no obvious breaks.

No one is the leader here and it literally takes six minutes before the reed cries, brass mewls, drum shimmies and piano arpeggios segues into “Auf Und Geht”, which is more like a Freebop Film Noir soundtrack then a work song. Subsequently this theme quickly shatters into adjacent parts with the cornet tone roaming brassily upwards, the reed reaching klaxon-like power, kinetic runs from the pianist and clip-clop drumming together upping the excitement level. Linear movement relaxes and centres the exposition by “Le 8 Ore”, as this tension between riot and repose is maintained throughout. Early on, Cancelli-Resnik suggest the contrapuntal punch from a 1960s’ Sonny Rollins-Don Cherry duo, while Pacorig’s surging piano creates a complementary line ably backed by irregular darts and dances from Giust’s percussion set. Later a sequence such as “Canto Dei Battipali” is swiftly deconstructed with brass whinnies, slap-tongue saxophone blat and bell-ringing from the drummer, only to re-animate “Chores”, the next sequence, with mellow grace notes from Cancelli, harp-like interface from Pacorig, subtle hand drumming from Giust and a hint that the tune is going to segue into “Stranger in Paradise” any second, but don’t. Buoyant circus-music-like textures, gentle keyboard glissandi and horn peeps add up to a multphonic program that emphasizes honed technique over reordering of the work environment. With additional timbres ranging tambourine-like shakes and a reed whistle that could come from a demented soprano singer entered into the mix, satisfaction with the sonic program unequivocally masks any political message.

A polyphonic roller coaster trip, with all the thrills intact, Inventum should be celebrated for what it achieves musically, not the political and economic ideas it doesn’t simplistically define.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Inventum 2. Auf Und Geht 3. Le 8 Ore 4. Addio Lugano 5. Canto Dei Battipali 6. Chores 7. Labor 8. Cantigas Do Maio 9. L’Internazionale

Personnel: Gabriele Cancelli (cornet); Cene Resnik (tenor saxophone); Giorgio Pacorig (piano) and Stefano Giust (drums)